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The World Bank has approved a $500 million credit to help Bangladesh improve its inland flood disaster preparedness in 14 flood-prone districts, benefiting more than 1.25 million people.
The Resilient Infrastructure for Adaptation and Vulnerability Reduction (RIVER) The project will help Bangladesh reduce vulnerability to riverine and flash floods by constructing more than 500 multipurpose flood shelters, access roads and climate-resilient community infrastructure. Normally, the flood shelters will function as primary schools and will be equipped with solar energy systems, water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, which meet the needs of women and vulnerable populations. The project will also help build the capacity of communities and government agencies to prepare for and respond to floods and undertake behavior change interventions.
“The heartbreaking flooding situation in the Sylhet region is a stark reminder of the growing risks of climate change for development – more frequent, unpredictable and intense natural disasters,” said Mercy Tembon, World Bank country director for Bangladesh and Bhutan. “Building on our five-decade partnership to improve disaster risk management in the coastal region, this project will help Bangladesh improve disaster preparedness in non-coastal flood-prone areas. It will also support the country’s transition from a disaster response approach to a disaster risk management approach.”
Bangladesh, a low-lying delta, is highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change-related natural disasters, including floods and cyclones. With climate change, the scale and intensity of floods are increasing. Each year, flooding and riverbank erosion affects approximately one million people, but in some years the numbers can be significantly higher. The project will contribute to saving lives and property in highly flood prone districts of the Teesta-Brahmaputra-Jamuna, Padma and Surma-Meghna river basins, namely: Nilpamari, Lalmonirhat, Kurigram, Rangpur, Gaibandha, Bogura, Pabna, Sirajganj, Rajbari , Faridpur, Gopalganj, Madaripur and Sunamganj, Habiganj.
“Inadequate evacuation facilities for people and their livestock in highly flood-prone areas not only result in loss of lives and livelihoods, but also hamper the ability to provide adequate relief,” said Ignatius Urrutia, World Bank Team Leader for the project. “This project will contribute to the development of disposal facilities that provide WASH, apply gender-responsive design, and provide ample space for community members and livestock, while benefiting the community in normal times..”
The project will also develop a database on the availability and condition of flood shelters, which will be essential for disaster preparedness and planning for future investments.
The project will support the Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100, a long-term plan to achieve a safe, climate-resilient and prosperous delta, as well as the World Bank Group’s Climate Change Action Plan 2021-2025.
The credit comes from the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), which provides concessional financing, and has a term of 30 years, including a five-year grace period. The World Bank was among the first development partners to support Bangladesh and has committed $37 billion in grants, interest-free and concessional credits to the country since independence. Currently, Bangladesh has the largest ongoing IDA program in the world.